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Delta Green - All Part of the Job

Nomessiah

Villager
A few months ago, I started a tabletop game of Call of Cthulhu with the Delta Green setting, and I've been writing the games up. I thought I'd post them here for anyone interested. Call of Cthulhu is a horror role playing game based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft and others, and it really plays up humanity's insignificance and the futility of our existence. In the Delta Green setting, players are federal agents of various government agencies and military branches who form a sort of unofficial and illegal cell-structure conspiracy which investigates supernatural horrors with the intent to destroy, suppress, and hide them from the rest of humanity. I welcome any and all questions and comments.

Table of Contents
Last Things Last
Puppet Shows and Shadow Plays
Handful of Dust
Good Intentions
Contagion
Killer Out of Space
Music From A Darkened Room
Sufficient Unto the Day
Hearken to the Wild
Fuel of the Gods
See No Evil
Night Floors
Convergence
Whereabouts Unknown
The Bedford Project
Let's Learn Aklo
Reverberations
Observer Effect
Future/Perfect
 
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Nomessiah

Villager
Last Things Last - Introduction

R-Cell
Agent RAPSCALLION – Tatom Merzos – U.S. Marshall’s office, Special Operations
Agent RAPUNZEL – Yuki Anderson, FBI Forensic Pathologist, Leader of R-Cell
Agent RASPUTIN – Grigori Ruspokov, CDC Researcher/Surgeon – Russian-born naturalized citizen
Agent ROBIN – Chika Takahashi, EPA Biologist and Environmental Scientist – Japanese-born naturalized citizen

S-Cell
Agent SAM – Gia Jones, FinCEN Investigator – Computer crimes specialist
Agent SÁBADO – Marcus Hernandez, IRS Investigator – Computer crimes specialist
Agent SETH – Ian Trotter, INSCOM Special Agent, Leader of S-Cell – Army Intelligence criminal psychologist


This first Opera takes place in December of 2008, just before Christmas. Standard procedure would have been for A-Cell to contact the cell leaders with an invitation to a Night at the Opera, and the cell leaders would have assembled their teams. This Opera was an urgent one, however, and so standard procedure was waived. All agents of R-Cell and S-Cell received the same encrypted email with the same attachment. Agent SETH also received a locker number and passcode.

Subject: You are invited to a Night at the Opera

Proceed to residence of Charles Berman (deceased). Remove any evidence of our activities. Report security breaches. Heirs are expected within 48 hours. Make sure everything is clean by then. No friendlies! Contact info, support material attached.

Attachment:

Charles Berman

DOB: 3/28/1941

Family: Wife, Marlene (8/20/1944 – 11/2/1995)
Daughter, Sharon (9/12/1967)
Son, Michael (7/28/1970)

Employed: Bureau of Internal Revenue/IRS (6/11/1965 – 9/1/1996)
Retired as Assistant Deputy Commissioner for Operational Support
Active: 1968 – 1979, taking part in 11+ operations. Numerous consultations as friendly with a specialty in taxation and property confiscations. No current association with group.
The attachment also gave the home address of Charles Berman, an apartment in Denver, CO.
 
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Nomessiah

Villager
Last Things Last - Session 1

Agent RAPUNZEL was unable to attend the Opera, but she did coordinate her cell’s rendezvous with Agent SETH. Agent SETH requested all cell members meet at a small bar and grill near by the deceased’s apartment.

All agents quickly headed for Denver from their various home cities, and they met up at the bar and grill shortly before 8 o’clock that same evening. Agent SETH had the farthest to travel, coming as he did from Virginia. He also had to stop to check the airport locker (which contained only a key which most likely fit a lock on a door), and then to rent a van for the operation. Once the cells were assembled, SETH proposed a simple plan: Drive to the apartment, search for any and all evidence, and leave without being detected. Agent SÁBADO pulled up a Streetview of the address on his phone courtesy of Google. It wasn’t what might be considered “the Projects”, but neither was it a particularly welcoming looking area.

It was a cold, clear night in Denver, but the ground showed evidence of recent snowfall. The roads were clear but a little wet; nothing an experienced driver should worry about. Agent SETH however was in a hurry. After a couple minor sliding or braking incidents, he decided to slow it down. Agent RASPUTIN didn’t help much.

“You drive like maniac. Drive like this in Russia, you get shot.”

A few minutes later, the van pulled into a snow-covered parking lot and found a parking spot within sight of the apartment. Half of the parking lot lights were out, but the snow reflected the moonlight well enough. Agent ROBIN stayed in the van to keep an outside watch while the rest of the agents headed to the apartment.

Agent SETH’s key opened the front door which squeaked softly open. The place was dark, but moonlight shown through every window. SETH slipped in quickly and closed the curtains on each window in turn. He ordered only flashlights be used for lighting. The living room and kitchen were rather Spartan. The kitchen table was small, pushed into a corner, and had only a single chair which faced a window. A magnet on the refrigerator held a drawing of a crayon stick-figure in place. The living room consisted of a desk and very old looking computer, a couch with a box of crossword magazines next to it, a clean coffee table, and an old television resting upon a small bookshelf of books on outdated tax code.

Agents SÁBADO and SAM went through the living room while SETH and RASPUTIN headed down the hall to check the rest of the apartment. Agent SAM booted up the computer only to find it was running DOS 6.0. A little surprised, she instead shutdown the computer and swapped its hard drive for a blank spare from her kit. She connected it to her laptop and went through every file one by one. There was nothing particularly interesting; mostly just a few family pictures. Satisfied, she switched the hard drives back.

SÁBADO held each book in turn by their covers and gave them a quick shake. This effort was rewarded with a yellowed sheet of folded notebook paper which fell out and fluttered to the floor. The blue ink on the paper seemed to show a list of assets. Each item on the list had a name written next to it in pencil, either Sharon or Michael. There was one item on the list without a name by it. It said only “Cabin”.

The first door SETH and RASPUTIN checked led to a clean bathroom with an open medicine cabinet. RASPUTIN identified the contents of the prescription bottle as a generic medication to treat a heart condition. The bottle contained ten pills and indicated the patient had two refills remaining.

“Looks like he expected to live while longer,” was his comment.

Oh, Agent ROBIN … all alone in a dark van in a dark parking lot on a dark, Colorado winter night. What could possibly go wrong? A man in a heavy coat walked past the van with a small dog on a leash, but he didn’t seem to notice her. So far, so good.

Agents SETH and RASPUTIN moved on to the first bedroom, while SÁBADO and SAM took the other. The first bedroom was just that. Nothing more interesting than a few family photographs and a shoebox of postcards and more photos. The postcards were all from Mr. Berman’s children, all from warm places around the country and world, and all expressing the same “Wish you were here”, and “I don’t know why you want to stay there where it’s so cold” sentiments.

SÁBADO and SAM found their chosen room to be devoid of furniture, and instead full of boxes; boxes of papers. This obviously had hours of enjoyment written all over it. They each took a box and started to sift through the mostly uninteresting papers. After almost an hour, they’d only made it through about a fifth of the boxes, but SÁBADO made a discovery. In a college-ruled spiral notebook, one page indicated an address in a small rural area about four hours away.

Agent SETH ordered the van to be backed up to the front door of the apartment. Agent ROBIN waited until the man with the dog passed again and disappeared around the corner of a building before putting the plan into effect. The agents loaded the van with boxes to search on the way to the new address while Agent RASPUTIN carried the box of crossword magazines and grabbed the key ring from the wall next to the front door.

On the way, Agent SAM ran a search for Michael Berman’s phone number and found it was a San Diego area code. She gave him a call and pretended to be a former co-worker of the deceased.

“May I speak with Michael Berman, please?”

“This is Michael.” The voice on the other end sounded a little tired and not at all interested in talking.

“Hi, Michael. My name is Sam. I used to work with your father for the IRS. I just had a few questions, if you don’t mind.”

“You know, he died a few days ago. This isn’t really the best time.”

“I know that, and I’m sorry for your loss. This really won’t take long, if you wouldn’t mind. We’re setting up a memorial for your father.”

“A memorial? Why? He retired a long time ago.”

Agent SAM wasn’t able to get much out of Michael, but it was interesting to note that he had no knowledge of his father’s cabin. That, and apparently Charles was a workaholic. He was rarely home, and Michael and Sharon weren’t very close with him as a result though in the later years, they did make attempts.

The drive to the cabin was a long one, and Agent RASPUTIN voiced what some of the others were thinking.

“We maybe stop at McDonald’s or Denny’s? Yeah, Denny’s. Good, old-fashioned American food.”

SETH decided time was still of the essence, and as a result, they skipped food and arrived at the frozen lakeside cabin around 1 o’clock in the morning.
 

Nomessiah

Villager
Last Things Last - Session 2

The cabin was quite secluded, being at least two miles from its nearest neighbor. The snowfall was even and about a foot and a half deep. As the van crept down the driveway toward the cabin, Agent SETH killed the headlights. The moonlight reflected well enough off the snow that everyone could see after a moment of adjustment.

As they neared the cabin, they could make out an outhouse and a shed around back, and the frozen lake a little ways in the distance. The van pulled to a stop near the front door, and the members of S-Cell piled out. Agents ROBIN and RASPUTIN anchored the van and monitored the exterior.

There were windows around the building, and all the curtains appeared to be open. Agent SÁBADO took up a position to the side of the door and silently checked the knob. It was locked. SAM drew her pistol and stood behind him. Agent SETH shined his flashlight through the window for a quick scan. The cabin was one large room with a loft. There didn’t appear to be any movement inside, and no sounds could be heard.

Agent SÁBADO methodically checked the keys on the ring until he found the one which opened the front door. He pushed gently, and it creaked slowly open. Agent SETH covered the entrance with his gun while the rest of his team entered, and then he followed. The cabin was deserted.

SETH flipped a switch near the door, and the whole place was lit. There was electric lighting, and from the looks of the kitchen area, there was running water. The floors were all wood except for in the kitchen where it was concrete. There was a stone fireplace with half-burnt logs which looked to have long since gone cold. There was no bathroom; not odd necessarily, given the outhouse, but if there was running water, most people would prefer an indoor toilet and shower.

All three agents ascended the ladder to the loft. There was a twin bed, and not much else. Under the bed, shoved far into the darkest part of the corner, Agent SAM found a large lockbox. Pulling it out, Agent SÁBADO tried the smaller of the two keys on the ring which obviously didn’t go to a door or a car. The box opened easily.

Immediately noticeable were a neatly folded, but quite bloody suit and an envelope placed neatly on top. Written on it was the name Mr. Green. Agent SAM took the envelope while Agent SETH took the suit. This left the rest of the box for SÁBADO.

SAM read the contents of the envelope quietly to herself before reading it aloud:

If you are reading this note, I can assume I have died or become incapacitated before I had the courage to complete my final mission for the group. You will find about twenty gallons of gas in the shed behind this cabin. Pour them into the septic tank beside the cabin, and ignite it. You'd be happier if you didn't look inside. Please make sure that the remains are kept from my children. I am so sorry. God, please forgive me.

Charles Berman
This raised eyebrows, but it had little other effect. The suit which Agent SETH examined was plain, brown, and somewhat outdated. There was a hole through the front of the jacket where the wearer’s heart would be, and no hole through the back. The wound caused by this hole seemed to be the source of all the blood, and it was most likely not a survivable one.

Beneath the suit, the box contained two canisters containing reel-to-reel tapes. The masking tape labels were dated 8/15/72 – 9/29/72. There were three grenades which Agent SETH identified as tear gas, a .357 revolver with the serial number filed away, and a baseball-sized glass sphere which appeared to be highly magnetized. Agent SETH was a bit disturbed by this, but he kept it to himself as the other two agents thought nothing of it.

Okay, so there’s a septic tank out back and twenty gallons of gasoline in the shed. Whatever this was about, it seemed to be the main point of the Opera. S-Cell descended the ladder, exited the cabin, and walked cautiously around back. Seeing this, Agent ROBIN decided to see what was up. RASPUTIN remained in the van while she joined the other agents in the back.

Now that they were close, they could definitely make out the ventilation pipe from the septic tank. Agent SAM thought she heard something and called for quiet. No one else could make anything out, but SAM felt sure she could hear a woman’s voice coming from the pipe.

“Hello? Is someone down there?” She drew worried and confused looks from the others. Then they all heard it.

“Charles? Charles, is that you?”

A shiver ran through all the agents. That was definitely a female voice, and it was definitely coming from this pipe.

“Who’s down there?” SAM asked.

Agent SÁBADO’s eyes widened. “No! Don’t talk to it.”

“It’s me, Marlene; your wife,” came the voice. “Please let me out, Charles. Please? It’s so cold and dark.”

Agent SETH asked a few questions designed to prove the identity and test for intelligence. All the while, SÁBADO protested. The voice answered the questions slowly but correctly with a few exceptions. Whoever was down there certainly seemed to be Marlene, but she had no sense of time, stating that she was 51 years old, and that she’d been down there “since you left me, Charles.” Between answers, she continued her pleas for release and warmth.

Being a professionally trained psychologist, it was obvious to SETH that whoever this was believed she was Marlene, believed she was the same age Marlene was when she had died, and believed that whatever voice she heard, whether male or female, was her husband Charles. She also desperately and pitifully wanted out of her prison and to be somewhere bright and warm.

There was a very lively debate between the members of S-Cell about just what was or might be down there, and what to do about it.

SAM felt that somehow, Marlene had been trapped here for years and should be rescued. At the very least, they should confirm that she was actually no longer alive. After all, the undead were just fiction.

SÁBADO felt that no one could survive down there, Marlene was officially believed to be dead, and maybe the undead were fiction, but demon possession was a documented fact. It was his duty as a devout Catholic to rid the Earth of whatever abomination was in that tank.

SETH wasn’t sure what to believe. Sure, it was possible she was still alive, but if so, she was still hopelessly insane. Sure, it was possible she was undead or possessed. By A-Cell’s account, Charles was an impeccable agent, and he obviously loved his wife. Ultimately, right and wrong had nothing whatsoever to do with this. There was a mission to accomplish. They were tasked to remove all evidence. Whoever, or whatever, was in that tank was evidence. Over SAM’s protest, he gave the nod to SÁBADO who headed for the shed and returned with two large cans of gasoline and a matchbook.

SAM threw her hands in the air and stomped off toward the van shouting “If there’s a chance, a decent human being would take it!”

Agent SETH whispered to SÁBADO “Do it.” He then followed SAM. Agent SÁBADO made the sign of the cross and began to empty the jugs down the ventilation pipe. ROBIN simply stared at the ground. The pleading could still be heard.

“Please, Charles. Whatever I did, I’m sorry. It won’t happen again. Please just let me out. It’s so cold and dark.”

Agent SÁBADO couldn’t bring himself to light a match, but he held the book to ROBIN who took it greedily. Without hesitation, she lit a match and giggled softly as it fell down the pipe.

There was a jet of flame, and shrieking rang out through the night with an eerie echo. When silence finally returned, the two remaining agents quietly returned to the van. They drove slowly back to Denver with a quick stop at the local Green Box to ditch what evidence they found and didn’t keep for themselves. The Green Box was a long term storage shed on a fairly secluded lot. No one really had much of an appetite, and so they simply caught the next flights and trains back to their home cities. After tonight, a little office time was welcome.
 

Nomessiah

Villager
Puppet Shows and Shadow Plays - Introduction

R-Cell
Agent RAPSCALLION – Tatom Merzos – U.S. Marshall’s office, Special Operations
Agent RAPUNZEL – Yuki Anderson, FBI Forensic Pathologist, Leader of R-Cell
Agent ROBIN – Chika Takahashi, EPA Biologist and Environmental Scientist – Japanese-born naturalized citizen

S-Cell
Agent SAM – Gia Jones, FinCEN Investigator – Computer crimes specialist
Agent SÁBADO – Marcus Hernandez, IRS Investigator – Computer crimes specialist
Agent SETH – Ian Trotter, INSCOM Special Agent, Leader of S-Cell – Army Intelligence criminal psychologist

Former Agents
Agent RASPUTIN (retired) – Grigori Ruspokov, CDC Researcher/Surgeon – Russian-born naturalized citizen


Roughly eight months have passed since the cold winter night in Colorado. In contrast, it was now a hot August night. Agent RASPUTIN made the decision to retire from active Delta Green status after the last Opera, but he remains a Friendly. This is sort of a low-key FBI/serial killer style investigation, so there's a lot of detail and information up front, and it might get a little dry. I apologize if I get too long winded. I'll try to summarize where possible while still providing a story you can follow.
 
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Nomessiah

Villager
Puppet Shows and Shadow Plays - Session 1

Agent RAPUNZEL’s phone rang; not her personal phone, but her special phone. Each agent had a cell phone which they used for Delta Green-sensitive purposes. It would connect to a secure server and establish an encrypted link. It wasn’t 100% foolproof, but it was as close as Federal money could get.

“RAPUNZEL.”

The voice on the other end was soft yet commanding. It was a voice she’d heard nowhere but from the other end of this phone. It was Agent ADAM from A-Cell.

“This is RAPUNZEL,” the pathologist said in her own quiet voice, a trait inherited from her Japanese ancestry.

“I have the honor of inviting you to a Night at the Opera. I do hope you’ll be able to attend this time as it’s in your neck of the woods.”

RAPUNZEL’s “neck of the woods” was Phoenix, AZ. She was a forensic pathologist for the FBI there. The voice didn’t wait for her to accept.

“Assemble your cell. You’ll want to stop by the FedEX drop box on your way to work in the morning. FBI credentials and identification have been provided for the other members of your team. Your team only. These credentials will be invalidated upon the final curtain of this Opera, and they should be destroyed at such time. Should you choose to involve S-Cell, they will be operating in an unofficial capacity. Recommend you go overt, they go covert or clandestine. SAC Hobbson will give you your briefing.”

The line went dead, and so she hung up the phone. SAC Hobbson was Special-Agent-in-Charge Patrick Hobbson, her immediate superior.

Agent RAPUNZEL did as she was asked, stopping at the local FedEX office on her way in to the office in the morning. Each cell leader had a key to a box at a FedEX, UPS, or similar office in his or her home town. In the box, she found a package. Waiting to open the package until she was safely in her car, Agent RAPUNZEL found just what ADAM had promised; credentials and ID badges with the names and personal information of her other cell members. They were to pose as FBI Special Agents on loan from the Seattle office.

When she arrived at the office, she found Agents RAPSCALLION and ROBIN waiting for her in the parking lot dressed quite professionally. RAPUNZEL handed out the contents of the package, briefly tested their cover story, and then led them inside.

SAC Hobbson was already waiting. He was a heavy-set man with short white hair, and as cliché as it may have seemed, it was obvious he had the “one year from retirement, and getting too old for this” thing going on.

“Ah, the help from Seattle,” he remarked with a tired smile as he directed the group to a briefing room.

The briefing room held a large table around which the agents seated themselves, a desk at the front, and a whiteboard behind it. SAC Hobbson got right to the point.

“We’ve got trouble in San Carlos,” he stated flatly as he dropped a manila folder on the table. “Trouble at the Indian Reservation.”

Agent RAPUNZEL examined the folder. It contained a map of the area with areas circled and numbered, a newspaper clipping, and a list of dates and names which more or less mirrored SAC Hobbson’s speech.

“Thirteen people in the last month have disappeared off State Road 70 that goes through there. They were last seen near the southern edge of the San Carlos Indian reservation. They include the following:”

SAC Hobbson went on to list the names and information of the missing persons. The first to go missing were a middle-aged white couple from New Mexico, the Curtleys. Their abandoned car was found a half mile off the road. Next was a Hispanic gas station attendant in his early 20s, Felix Royce. He stepped behind the building for a smoke and never returned. Third was the camp of a couple fishermen near the reservoir, Ed Stoltz and Chris Martin. It was deserted. Following the fishermen were the disappearances of two foreign couples approximately two days apart. The first couple were young German tourists, and the second couple were Dutch citizens out to enjoy their retirement. Their rental cars were also found about a half mile from the road. Finally was a family of four, the Begays. They were successful ranchers who lived on the southern end of the reservation, close to Route 70.

According to the markings on the map, the disappearances were moving more or less in a Northwesterly direction. With the exception of the fishermen and the Begay family, each disappearance was right from the road. The newspaper article reiterated SAC Hobbson’s speech, but it did so in a more sensationalized manor.

“As these people have disappeared, and no bodies have been found, these are considered kidnapping and not homicides. Everyone disappeared on State Road 70 between Peridot and Geronimo.

“You’ll be working with Major Frank Garrett, liaison with the state patrol, and with Sheriff Mangas Colorados. He’s the Apache Tribal Police liaison.

“You’re going to aid the investigation. It’s still under the jurisdiction of the state police and the Apache Police. You can get their assistance, and you are to assist in return. You’re going to have the freedom to do your jobs, but you can’t order them around. They don’t have authority to order you either. Lend the local police all possible assistance, but do not take over the case.”

With the briefing concluded, R-Cell left to meet up with their liaisons and check on the whereabouts of S-Cell. As it turns out, the members of S-Cell had arrived in Phoenix and met up for lunch at a Denny’s. R-Cell stopped in to quickly relay the finer points of the mission briefing and coordinate a plan.

As the investigation seemed to be centered on Route 70 through the reservation, Agent SETH booked a few rooms at the Apache Gold Hotel and Casino so as to be centrally located. RASPUTIN and ROBIN were also to stay at the Apache Gold. RAPUNZEL would be about an hour away in her own home in Phoenix.

S-Cell went to the hotel to work possible leads from there, though if the Arizona State Police, Apache Tribal Police, and FBI all had nothing, their chances seemed slim. Agent SAM scoured the internet and financial databases for more information on the people who had disappeared, but she turned up little. Agent SÁBADO called all major car rental companies to see if any other vehicles failed to be returned; only the two currently in impound. Agent SETH looked up Felix Royce’s brother. He was in prison in New York for multiple felonies.

While SAM worked the computer angle, SETH and SÁBADO decided to check the Chevron station where Mr. Royce went missing. There were no other customers, so SETH engaged the clerk, a young Apache man named Steven, in conversation. He was able to get a quick picture of the emergency contact list behind the register, but otherwise there was nothing. Agent SÁBADO checked the perimeter for cameras. They all faced the front of the store, but the smoking area appeared to be around back; no buildings in sight from that side. Eventually, they headed back to the hotel for the night.

Meanwhile, R-Cell met with Major Garrett of the State Police in Phoenix. He was a nice enough man, stocky, in his mid-30s, and wore a cowboy hat and spurs on his hiking boots. This was mostly just a preliminary meeting to get acquainted, and it was apparent the state police had no real leads either. Major Garrett offered the support of his men, and the use of his equipment including the police helicopter, but he did make sure everyone was on the same page regarding jurisdiction.

The meeting with Sheriff Colorados went about the same. He was an older Apache, but his hair was still long, thick, and dark. There was a profound sorrow in his eyes, and a hint of worry. The agents briefly discussed the case with him, and as they were about to leave, he told them they were planning to check the area of the Begay ranch in the morning. The Federal agents were welcome to tag along. Agent RAPUNZEL happily accepted. A tribal police escort might be a good thing given historical tensions between Native Americans and the Federal government.

Satisfied with their day of work, RAPUNZEL headed home while RAPSCALLION and ROBIN made their way to the hotel.
 

Nomessiah

Villager
Puppet Shows and Shadow Plays - Session 2

Agent SAM was up at sunrise. She didn’t care for anything the hotel restaurant had on the menu, so she headed to a diner a couple miles down the road. She enjoyed a nice, quiet breakfast and returned to the hotel with coffee for her colleagues who were just waking.

Agent SETH took his coffee and asked her to collect phone records linked to the cell phone of Felix Royce, the gas station attendant who had apparently wandered off in the middle of the night shift. This took her a little while, but by 11:00, she had the list. It seemed he only called one number, a land line, and there had been no activity since the night of his disappearance. The land line was registered in his name, and the address was on the reservation. Agent SÁBADO questioned why a young Hispanic male would have a residence on an Apache reservation, and who he might have been calling, so he and Agent SETH went for a drive. SETH’s cover story would be that he had done time with Felix’s brother, and had just been released. He was asked to deliver a message.

Around this time, R-Cell was set to head out to the Begay ranch with the tribal police. RAPUNZEL met up with her cell at the Apache Gold, and briefed Agent RAPSCALLION before they went out. Upon arriving at the station, they saw Sheriff Colorados was ready. The Jeep was running, and there was a deputy in the driver’s seat ready to lead them out to the ranch.

The drive was quick and uneventful. They passed a neighbor’s house, and about a mile later they arrived in front of the Begay ranch. It was a good sized one story house, and a large barn with a corral could be seen behind it. Agent RAPUNZEL checked the front door, and it was locked. Agent RAPSCALLION knocked while RAPUNZEL and ROBIN went around back. There was no answer at the front door, but the back door was unlocked. The house seemed well cared for. It was tidy, but it did seem no one had been here in a while. They headed to the barn, but they didn’t find much. There were twenty or so sheep inside, and the large double-doors which led to the corral were open. Sheep and horses could be seen out there.

RAPSCALLION examined the corral fence which appeared to be very sturdy and well-maintained. RAPUNZEL occupied herself with counting sheep and horses while ROBIN just stared off into the distance watching the birds fly in a circle. It took a moment, but then it clicked. Circling birds in a desert meant dead things, right? She called out to her cell members, and they decided to drive out and take a look.

SETH and SÁBADO arrived at Felix’s house only to find it locked. SÁBADO questioned a neighbor and learned that Felix’s girlfriend, an Apache girl named Maria was at work at the diner down the road. He lived with an Apache. That explained how he was living on the reservation.

Upon arriving at the diner, Agent Seth introduced himself using his cover story, and he asked to have a few words with Maria. She took her break, and stepped outside. She told them that Felix was a good hard-working guy. It wasn’t like him to just wander off, and she was afraid something bad had happened. She wasn’t able to give them much information, but she did agree to call if anything turned up.

As R-Cell pulled up to where the birds seemed to be circling, they found a rocky embankment which led down to some brush and a small tree. Carefully, they walked down to the tree to take a look, and they were rewarded with scattered bones, and a few dead sheep. RAPUNZEL photographed the scene, and then examined the bones. A few were sheep bones, but most were human. She identified four complete skeletons, one adult male, one adult female, and two male children. All of the bones appeared to have bite marks. She radioed Sheriff Colorados to inform him of the discovery, and soon the bones were on their way to the Medical Examiner in Phoenix.

They decided their next stop would be to re-examine the area around the gas station. About an hour’s worth of searching in the desert heat produced a spot of disturbed dirt. Digging, they uncovered another full skeleton about two feet down. It also showed signs of bite marks. So now this was a murder investigation. RAPUNZEL texted SETH what she had learned, and so SETH and SÁBADO headed to the reservoir campsite to see if they could turn up anything more.

They spent the early evening hours poking around outside the campsite where investigators might not have checked, and after a while they found two skeletons buried about two feet down. SETH texted RAPUNZEL what they found, and she said to cover it back up. She then called Major Garrett and Sheriff Colorados to advise them to check the other disappearance sites for shallow graves. Major Garrett informed her that the state patrol helicopter pilot had just radioed in that he spotted something along Route 70. R-Cell agreed to meet the state police at the site.

What the pilot had spotted turned out to be an overturned car with Texas plates at the bottom of a steep embankment and shielded from view of the road. The police ran the plates while Agent RAPUNZEL took the hands-on approach. Opening the door, she was assaulted by a horrible stench. A man’s body was in there, and had been for quite some time. There appeared to be no blood, but his belly had been sliced, and his intestines had fallen out. RAPUNZEL and a couple officers had to turn and vomit. Everyone else just covered their noses. A search of the man’s wallet turned up a name. He was Kenneth Braverman from Houston, TX. There were also zip-ties in the trunk which had been used to bind something, but they had been cut.

Agent RAPUNZEL muttered something about a long night for the Medical Examiner as they returned to the car. She headed home for the night, and the rest of her cell went to the hotel to share their findings with S-Cell. Agent SETH asked SAM to find everything she could about Kenneth Braverman, and then everyone else headed for bed.

RAPUNZEL was awoken in the middle of the night by a call from the Medical Examiner. He had completed his examination of the five skeletons and the two dead sheep. Dental records confirmed their identities as the Begay family and Felix Royce. The bones showed signs of having been gnawed by what was most likely a human. The sheep had three tiny punctures in their necks, spaced roughly in an equilateral triangular shape. On the side opposite the punctures was an incision which is where all the blood had drained. The sheep showed evidence of having been tranquilized, but the examiner had never seen a tranquilizer quite like it. Maybe the FBI lab would like to analyze it? RAPUNZEL indicated that they would, and she’d be in early in the morning to collect the samples.

Agent SAM found a memo from the Houston FBI office in pretty short order and shared it with her team before they turned in for bed. The memo gave a description of Braverman and indicated that he is wanted in connection with the murders of his two children, and he is the main suspect in connection with a series recent prostitute murders involving dismemberment and mutilation in the Houston area. He is also believed to have kidnapped his wife Elaine Braverman. He was a serving officer with the Houston PD.

Agent SÁBADO was from Houston, and he vaguely remembered hearing about the story on the news a couple months back. He relayed this information to SAM before heading to bed. Agent SAM used the rest of the night to search for those stories and anything related, and she was well rewarded. Upon waking in the morning, the other agents were welcomed with news story after news story which seemed to be linked in bizarre ways.

Sometime before the prostitute killings, there was a story of a Mr. David Charles, an architect from New Orleans who was found dead in his Houston apartment from multiple chest and stomach wounds. The first officer on the scene had been Kenneth Braverman. Mr. Charles had apparently moved to Houston a week earlier after having shot an intruder in self-defense who later turned out to have been wanted for murder and cannibalism. His last known address was St. Bartholomew’s Shelter for the Homeless in Nashville, TN.

An earlier article regarding St. Bartholomew’s reported that a Father Willard Franklin had gutted himself with a kitchen knife after being questioned by police in relation to the disappearance of as many as twenty-one people who were known to use the Shelter’s services regularly.

A search for earlier stories related to Nashville and disembowelment led to an article about a Doctor Brenton Clark who had been found dead in his newly rented home. He had recently moved from Lowery, WV where he served as the local Medical Examiner. He had unexpectedly resigned his post after fourteen years without notifying his employers in writing.

This led back to an even earlier article about a resident of Tecumseh County, WV named Mack Tooley who had shot himself in the head when police arrived at his cabin to arrest him in connection with the murder of an unidentified man whose bloodless corpse was found on his property. Dr. Clark had performed the autopsy.

Okay then. That was a lot of information to have thrown at you before coffee. The agents sat down to discuss the implications, and several theories were thrown out. None made much sense to any rational person, but they’d seen some strange things so they didn’t want to rule anything out. There were theories of aliens, demons, cults, and diseases. None really stuck, but they figured whatever was going on, their best bet was to find the missing Elaine Braverman as she was their only suspect.
 
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Nomessiah

Villager
Puppet Shows and Shadow Plays - Session 3a

Agent RAPUNZEL ordered an immediate APB on Elaine Braverman, and she sent a photograph to all major news outlets in Arizona. A short while later, her phone rang. It was her boss, SAC Hobbson.

“Agent Anderson, this is Hobbson. Just want to give you a heads up.” The man was clearly tired as well as irritated; pretty much his standard morning demeanor. “Had a few guys in black suits in my office this morning flashing badges. Apparently the NSA is interested in something about the investigation. National security, and all that. Listen, I want you to cooperate fully, and turn over any evidence you have. Make sure you keep copies, or you can’t exactly do your job, but they’re going to want to think they have it all.”

All she could manage was a quiet “Err … Yes, sir.”

“Good. Thank you, Agent Anderson. I don’t want any trouble with the NSA. I just want to get through this last miserable year, collect my pension, and drink myself to sleep somewhere without so much dirt. Oh, one more thing. They’re heading to the hospital now. Said something about chemical samples and autopsies.”

RAPUNZEL hung up the phone and let out an audible growl. This must be how local police feel when the FBI takes over. It seems there’s always someone bigger. Like it or not – trust it or not – national security always trumps homicide.

She had just enough time to inform the other agents of the new development before her phone rang once more. This time it was the Apache Tribal Police. Sheriff Colorados informed her that several days ago, three elders went into the mountains to a sacred cave to perform a ritual. They were due back yesterday, but they did not return. He had sent an acolyte to check on them, and he too failed to return. The sheriff was taking three deputies out to investigate, and he asked if the FBI would like to go as well.

Agent RAPUNZEL indicated that she would be happy to help, and that if it was alright, she may bring additional backup. Colorados said that they hope nothing has happened, but any additional FBI agents would be welcome.

The plan then was for R-Cell to meet with Colorados at the Apache Police Station and follow them out to the cave, and S-Cell was going to tail at a safe distance so as to be close enough to respond in the event that things went poorly.

The Apache Police were ready to go when R-Cell arrived. Sheriff Colorados and a deputy took one jeep, two other deputies took a second jeep, and R-Cell followed in RAPUNZEL’s pink SUV. It took about an hour down a dirt road, and eventually they arrived at a large, round dirt area blocked by three boulders and shaded on the sides by light tree cover. This was obviously the end of the road, but a boulder-lined dirt trail wound its way up to a cave.

The Apache police parked their jeeps and got out as the SUV pulled up behind. One deputy quickly stood stiffly upright, and fell backward over the side of the jeep. Almost immediately after, they could hear a loud crack echo through the mesas. The deputy had been shot in the heart from the direction of the cave which was easily 250 yards away.

The sheriff and two remaining deputies each ducked behind a boulder while R-Cell took up position behind the SUV, and Colorados called for backup over his radio. Of course, help would be an hour away. No one could see much of anything. The cave was dark, and the intervening space was very bright. The sun was almost directly overhead, and it was nearing 90 degrees everywhere but the shade. One deputy tried to sneak out to pull the body behind the boulder, but another shot rang out, and the dead deputy took another round to the torso.

RAPSCALLION scanned the terrain between their position and the cave. It was all uphill and wide open with the exception of about eight boulders along the path roughly 30 yards apart. He decided he was going to make a break for the first boulder, and so RAPUNZEL asked the police for covering fire. The deputies popped up to shoot a few rounds, but before Agent RAPSCALLION actually made his break, another deputy had taken a round to the heart. Whoever was up there had a hell of an aim and could pick off a target quickly.

Be that as it may, RAPSCALLION ran for all he was worth, rolling behind the first boulder as a bullet kicked up a cloud of dirt only a few feet behind him. He wasn’t sure his luck would hold out another seven times, and so he decided to hold his position for the time being.

RAPUNZEL sent Agent SETH a text: Sniper in cave. Two deputies down. S-Cell moved up, stopping their jeep several yards behind the others. Sheriff Colorados didn’t question the new arrivals. He was just happy to see any reinforcements so soon.

Agents SETH and RAPUNZEL talked things over for a moment, and they decided on a plan. They would split up and go way around to flank the cave using the trees as cover. Then they would skirt the base of the mountain and climb up. It would take about an hour, but it would minimize their risk of getting shot. RAPUNZEL called RAPSCALLION back, and so once again, he ran for his life. This time there was no shot, but he didn’t care a bit.

After regrouping, the agents split to flank the cave. It took a while, but they all reached the cave entrance without further incident. They all drew their pistols and entered one by one. The scene just inside the mouth of the cave was gruesome. Two skeletons, picked clean, and showing signs of bite marks in the bones; one body, skeleton from the waist down, chewed carcass from the waist up with a face twisted in horror; and a young Apache boy, face down and dead.

Everyone had to look away for a moment, but Agent SÁBADO took it worse than the rest. He let out a scream, and began shouting in a strange mixture of Latin, Spanish, and English as he unloaded his entire clip into the body of the Apache child. His gun clicked several times before agent SETH was able to calm him down. When the initial shock had passed, Agents RAPUNZEL and RAPSCALLION began examining the bodies while ROBIN and S-Cell scanned the cave.

The cave was dark, and it split in two directions. ROBIN watched the cave entrance while S-Cell checked the right branch. This led only a short distance to a small chamber. The only thing of interest in the room was a green canvas duffel bag. SÁBADO slowly unzipped the bag to reveal a smooth sphere a little larger than a basketball and dark grey in color like heavily tinted glass. It was semi-transparent, but the interior was difficult to make out. It seemed to be filled with swirling smoke, and every so often a tiny light would emerge in a seemingly random pattern of frequency, location, and duration. He zipped up the bag, and Agent SETH slid the strap over his shoulder.

RAPUNZEL and RAPSCALLION were able to pull bloody finger prints from the half-eaten corpse, and they bagged four shell casings from the cave floor. The Apache child had three small punctures in one side of his neck, and a small incision on the other. He was completely bloodless, and he had been shot six times at close range several hours after death.

ROBIN continued to watch the cave entrance as the rest of the agents checked the other branch of the cave. It too led a short distance to a wall with natural handholds forming a ladder leading to a smallish opening. Sunlight peeked in through the hole. SÁBADO climbed up and out to take a look. It was rocky for several yards, and then the tree cover began. It got denser the farther into it he looked. If someone who knew the area and had an hour or so head start, there would be no hope of finding them. He decided to head back down just as ROBIN raised the alert. The sheriff and deputy were headed up the path.

Agent SETH met them at the entrance and advised them not to enter. “It’s pretty ugly in there, but we have forensics going over everything.”

Colorados frowned with a nod. “Bodies?”

SETH nodded. “Two skeletons, a half-eaten corpse, and a child.”

Colorados sighed heavily. This was his worst fear, but somehow he knew it. Glancing at the bag over SETH’s shoulder, he asked “What’s that?”

“My equipment” was SETH’s reply.

“You didn’t have it with you when you went up. Did you find it in the cave? Is that evidence? If that’s evidence, I’m going to have to ask you to turn it over.”

Agent SETH glanced around nervously, took a step back, and reached for a tear gas grenade on his belt. The two Apache officers were already on edge, and they had their guns drawn and pointed at his nose before he could.

“Drop it, son,” the sheriff ordered.

Agent SETH allowed himself to be disarmed while RAPUNZEL apologized profusely. This was obviously a misunderstanding, and everyone was on edge. The sheriff said he hoped that was all, and turned the weapons over to her, reminding her that she was responsible for the actions of everyone here.

The deputy took the bag and ordered SETH up against the wall. RAPUNZEL showed the sheriff the opening and asked where it led. Colorados didn’t know, but he guessed it led further into the mountains.
 

Nomessiah

Villager
Puppet Shows and Shadow Plays - Session 3b

With the sheriff down the tunnel, SETH gave RAPSCALLION a wink. They both jumped at the deputy, SETH trying to choke him, and RAPSCALLION attempting to punch him. The deputy dodged both attacks, yelled for the sheriff, and backed out of the cave.

RAPUNZEL grumbled, and she and ROBIN both pulled their guns, pointing them at the sheriff. SÁBADO decided everyone had gone crazy, and they were all going to be shot, so he quietly snuck down the tunnel, up the ladder, and out the hole.

Sheriff Colorados put his hands up and backed up against the wall. “You’re making a big mistake here, Agent Anderson. You know that.”

She cursed SETH under her breath. She knew this was all going wrong, and she didn’t see a way out of it, but she kept her gun pointed.

“We need that bag, Sheriff. Look inside, and you’ll see what I mean.”

The sheriff told her that it was evidence in a murder investigation, and it would be inspected at the station. The FBI would have access to it, but it fell under Apache Tribal jurisdiction. Meanwhile, the deputy was still backing down the path, gun in one hand, and walkie-talkie in the other. “Request immediate backup. The FBI is attacking us!”

Yeah … That wasn’t going to look good in the official report. The sheriff took a deep breath, and in the most confident, imposing manner he could muster, he spoke. “You really don’t want to do this, Agent Anderson. Neither of us wants this, and it’s not worth it. Put down your guns. We’ll all head to our vehicles, and return to our respective homes, headquarters, or where the hell ever, and we’ll calm down. We can forget this ever happened, and after that bag has been checked into evidence, you are welcome to examine it.”

That was a better deal than she could have hoped for, and it seemed like the only way out without totally botching the investigation, their careers, and their lives. She agreed, and everyone put away their weapons. It was a tense walk back down to the vehicles, but everyone drove away safely; everyone but SÁBADO.

Agent SÁBADO had decided his best chance at survival was to walk back to civilization. He looked around for a moment, and then he proceeded in exactly the wrong direction. The forest got denser around him, and after a while he paused, took stock of his situation, and again chose exactly the wrong direction. Then it happened. A twig snapped. Something tightened around his ankle, and he quickly found himself dangling upside down from a tree.

It wasn’t long after that when he heard something behind the tree from which he was suspended. He saw something out of the corner of his eye climbing the tree, and he twisted to see. There he saw the largest Apache he’d ever seen, covered in mud and grinning at him. Something whipped from the man’s mouth and pierced SÁBADO’s neck. He felt himself weaken, but he fought off the tranquilizer.

Agent SÁBADO instinctively grasped for the tentacle-like tongue and got a firm grip. The Apache growled, and holding the tree with his legs, he drew a large, serrated hunting knife. SÁBADO punched at the man, but he missed. For his part, the Apache swung the knife at the dangling agent, but he too missed. Apparently, knife fighting with your legs wrapped around a tree and someone holding your tongue makes things a little difficult.

Agent SÁBADO knew he was in a jam, but he remembered his gun. It was still in its holster, and so he drew it and fired. At point blank range with a heavy pistol, half the Apache’s head splattered away. The IRS agent was only a little shocked when the man shook off its wound, sending gore and brain matter flying.

The large Apache swung his knife once more, catching SÁBADO in the collar, and leaving a deep, nasty gash. The agent screamed a curse in a mix of Latin and Spanish, biting back the pain. A second shot from his pistol removed the rest of the Apache’s head. There was now nothing above the jaw, and yet he continued to fight after a brief stun. The tongue jerked free and retreated down the exposed wind pipe, and Agent SÁBADO fired again, catching the man square in the chest.

The headless Apache dropped from the tree, rolled, and stumbled off into the woods as SÁBADO struggled to stay conscious. He tried in vain to pull himself up, and the best he could manage was to swing over to the trunk of the tree, and hold on. He muttered quiet prayers as his blood poured forth from his wound. It was getting so cold, and he just wanted to sleep, but he kept himself going with his prayers.

At some point, Agent RAPUNZEL thought to text Agent SETH: You have SÁBADO, yes?

SETH’s reply: No. Thought he was with you.

RAPUNZEL swung the pink SUV around and headed back for the cave. It occurred to her that she hadn’t seen him since they were all up there, and he hadn’t left with them. He must have gone out the back. Once at the cave, R-Cell headed up the ladder and out the hole. Looking around, they tried to think of where SÁBADO may have gone. RAPUNZEL decided she was sure he’d have gone back to civilization, and so she headed off … in exactly the wrong direction. This happened to be good, however, as it was the same direction the IRS agent had gone.

They eventually came across him, still up in the tree, still struggling to stay awake. RAPSCALLION climbed quickly up, and cut him down. ROBIN did some quick patch work, and they moved him back to the SUV as quickly as possible. It took a while to get him to the hospital, but he was still alive when they made it. He was immediately admitted to the ER and taken for surgery.

RAPUNZEL texted SETH to bring him up to speed. The reply was this: Keep him under observation. He may be our suspect now.

On this revelation, Agent RAPUNZEL called Major Garrett to arrange for a State Police guard. SÁBADO was handcuffed to his bed despite the fact that he was heavily sedated, and RAPUNZEL had him officially listed as a person of interest.

RAPSCALLION stayed with SÁBADO in the hospital, and ROBIN and RAPUNZEL went to the FBI lab to send the fingerprints and shells for analysis. Everyone else returned to the hotel to calm down and relax.

It was about 3:00 AM when RAPUNZEL got the results from the FBI lab. The shells were casings from a Lee Enfield Mark III rifle, a sniper rifle of British make. The prints belonged to one Master Sergeant Emmanuel Santana, an Apache. Santana was Delta Force and he served in Afghanistan and Iraq before going AWOL in 2004. He hadn’t been heard from since.

Agent RAPUNZEL cursed, and then she called SETH to inform him that they were up against an Apache Rambo.

Shortly after that, she received a call from the Apache Tribal Police. It was Sheriff Colorados, and he sounded shaken. He told her he hoped everyone had cooled off a bit, and though he was still not ready to trust her, he needed her. The station had been hit. It was in flames. There were three dead deputies and another body, headless from the jaw down. The evidence from the cave was missing. He had salvaged the security camera tape but hadn’t watched it yet. She said she was on her way.

RAPUNZEL alerted Agent SETH, and both cells sped to the Apache Tribal Police headquarters; all but SÁBADO who was drugged and under guard, and RAPSCALLION who was sitting with him. When they got to the scene, it was just as the sheriff had described it. The three deputies had been scalped, and the scalps were in the possession of the headless man. He was most definitely dead.

RAPUNZEL asked if her team could watch the tape, and Colorados agreed. He was busy with disaster control, so he would trust her to handle things carefully. She agreed they would. They took the tape back to the hotel, and watched it in the VCR in the hotel conference room.

The headless Apache stumbled in, feeling around with one hand, and carrying a hunting knife in the other. He found a deputy, cut his throat, and scalped him. He repeated the process with the other two. As he was finishing off the third, a black SUV pulled up out front, and three men in black suits stepped out. They entered the station to see the scene. One shouted, drew his gun, and fired. The headless Apache turned and stumbled their direction. One black suited man dove at the headless thing, tackling it. They rolled around a bit, and things got a little confused. Agent RAPUNZEL clearly saw something come out of the headless thing’s neck and force its way into the black suited man’s mouth. The body then went limp and collapsed as the black suited man rose and attacked his former allies. It was obvious they were going to lose the fight, so the other two men fled to the SUV, driving off at a quick pace. The one remaining man calmly put on his sunglasses and walked into the evidence locker, emerging with a green canvas bag over his shoulder. He walked off into the night.
 

Nomessiah

Villager
Puppet Shows and Shadow Plays - Session 4a

Agent SÁBADO awoke still handcuffed to the rail of his hospital bed. He was still heavily sedated, numb, and unable to move without great effort. Agent RAPSCALLION slept in a chair at the foot of the bed snoring softly. The room was dimly lit from somewhere in the corner, and a thick line of light peeked in from under the door. SÁBADO’s vision was blurry as well, but slowly he focused his eyes on the clock. The hands came into focus before the numbers, but he didn’t need the numbers to read the clock. It indicated the time was 1:38, and the darkness outside the window implied it was early morning.

The door to the room opened quietly, and out of the corner of his eye, the IRS agent could barely make out the silhouette of a man. As the man approached, SÁBADO could see that he wore a black suit and carried a green canvas bag over one shoulder. The man leaned over Agent SÁBADO, and a whip-like tentacle shot from his mouth striking the seemingly helpless agent. Before the tranquilizer could flow, SÁBADO managed to flail an arm up to push the tentacle away.

The man simply grinned and dropped his bag in a nearby chair. Drawing a serrated hunting knife, the man in the black suit approached the sleeping and snoring Agent RAPSCALLION. With a quick motion, the Marshall’s throat was cut, and blood sprayed. Agent SÁBADO tried to scream, but all he could manage was a forceful exhale.

The man then took what appeared to be a plastic or foil pouch from the bag on the chair. He moved to pull down the neck of SÁBADO’s gown, but the agent again managed to flail an arm wildly to block the attempt. Every pathetic attempt at resistance only seemed to amuse the man in the black suit even more. Again the man moved to pull down the neck of the gown, and this time he was successful.

With SÁBADO’s chest exposed, the man placed the pouch over the agent’s heart. The sensation it produced was immediately one of intense cold which then became a numb, dull pain. When the pouch was removed, the area was a pale blue-white. The man drew his knife across the pale area easily parting the flesh and cutting into the bone. Setting the knife aside, he then reached into the wound with both hands, ripping flesh and bone apart to expose Agent SÁBADO’s rapidly beating heart. The process caused a strong but numb and dull physical pain, but it was the psychological pain that really hurt. The poor IRS agent was powerless to do anything but watch as the man drew a pocket watch-sized, grey object with many twitching legs from his jacket pocket. He placed it directly on SÁBADO’s beating heart, and it burrowed in.

The man in the black suit grinned as he forced the bone and flesh back into roughly the right places. He then applied the pouch to the area once more, and after the intense cold, the wound was sealed. The area remained the same pale blue-white.

As the man stood over the bed grinning, the door silently opened once more, and a nurse entered. She was very tall – nearly seven feet – and she was very thin. It seemed as if a regular person had somehow been stretched out. She walked over to the man in the black suit, placed a hand on his shoulder, and said simply “You don’t belong here.”

The man turned to look at her, and as he did so, she began to glow with a pale white light. The light seemed to slowly intensify, and as it did, everything outside about a three-foot radius seemed to get darker. It was as if either she was pulling all the light from the room to surround her, or the light emanating from her was pushing back the darkness and condensing it. Either way, the effect was the same; total darkness everywhere but around the nurse and the man in the black suit. As she became too bright to look at, the man reached into a pocket inside his jacket and took out his sunglasses. He grinned as he put them on. The nurse then began to crackle with energy, and the room exploded. Everything was vaporized – including SÁBADO.

After he died, Agent SÁBADO experienced a long period of darkness. He then awoke in his hospital bed, still handcuffed, and still sedated. Agent RAPSCALLION still slept in the chair at the foot of the bed, and the clock still said 1:38. He could vaguely remember something from the period of darkness. He could remember … numbers? Yes; a seemingly random series of numbers.

Then the door opened, and out of the corner of his eye, Agent SÁBADO could barely make out the silhouette of a man. The previous scene again played itself out, and SÁBADO’s mind was having real difficulty holding itself together. His Catholic faith filtered the horrible semi-reality for him, and he began to regard the nurse as something of a guardian angel.

After the period of darkness, he again awoke, and once more, he could remember bits and pieces. This time, the number string broke off, and the voice had “spoken”. It was really more like words forming in his head, but regardless of their nature, he could make out the phrase “subject response sub-optimal”.

The scene with the nurse played out once more, and this time SÁBADO decided he was either dreaming, or he was in Hell. Praying silently that it was the former, he tried to wake himself, but it didn’t work. Well, that was a bad sign.

This time however, when everything went dark, he could actually hear. It wasn’t like waking and remembering. This seemed to be actually happening. The voice said “Subject status invalid. Sensory error. Correction.” The darkness began to fade, and though he was completely immobilized, be could still make out a stone wall lined with metal racks which held jars, wickedly shaped tools, and metallic cylinders of various sizes. There was also a large vat of some sort of churning grey slime. He had only a brief period to take this in before something humanoid, but definitely not human appeared over him. It was short, grey, impossibly thin with a large head, tiny mouth, and very large, black eyes. It looked very much like what Hollywood and various rural Americans have said for years that aliens looked like.

The mouth didn’t move, but Agent SÁBADO could hear the voice all the same. “Remain calm, subject. Adjustments are in progress to restore equilibrium. Fixed state … status error … correction.” There was a shock to his heart, and SÁBADO again awoke in his hospital bed, handcuffed to the rail and still sedated. Agent RAPSCALLION still slept in the chair at the foot of the bed, but this time the clock read 5:43.

The door slowly opened, and the man in the black suit entered. SÁBADO’s heart began to beat faster. With every step the man took, the agent’s heart rate increased. The man leaned over the helpless IRS agent, and the whip-like tentacle shot out striking him in the neck. As it did so, Agent SÁBADO’s heart began to beat impossibly fast, and finally it exploded. The heart exploded, SÁBADO exploded, the man in black dropped dead on the floor, and Agent RAPSCALLION was knocked out of his chair.

He rubbed his eyes and opened them to see an arm handcuffed to a bed rail and feet poking out from under the blanket, but there was only blood and gore to connect them. He barely held back a scream as he stood and quickly exited the room. He sent Agent RAPUNZEL a quick text; only two words: SÁBADO exploded.
 

Nomessiah

Villager
Puppet Shows and Shadow Plays - Session 4b

All agents but SAM scrambled to get to the hospital. Agent SAM stayed at the hotel to hold down the fort, so to speak. She also got in a little slot machine action. Agent SETH called the State Police to request helicopter transport, and soon they were on the way.

Once in the hall, RAPSCALLION took stock of the situation. There were two unconscious Arizona State Police officers slumped against the wall, a front desk far to one end of the hall, and emergency exit doors nearby to the other end. He had started for the exit when he heard a wet, scurrying sound behind him. Turning, he saw what he could only describe as a grey slime with four tentacles slide out from under the door, slither onto an officer, and start to crawl into his mouth.

The Marshall drew his pistol and fired at it, but he hit the officer in the shoulder instead. He fired again, and hit the officer in the other shoulder. While unfortunate, this had the effect of causing the creature to think better of things, and go for the other officer instead. The second officer began to gag as the creature tried to burrow down his throat. RAPSCALLION fired twice more, hitting the creature, but apparently the bullets didn’t emerge from the other side because the officer vomited the rest of the slime out onto his immobilized lap.

Agent RAPSCALLION grabbed bandages and began to patch up the injured officer as a nurse came around the corner to investigate the shots. Her eyes were immediately drawn to the creature, and with a scream, she stumbled backwards. She tripped over herself and began crawling back behind the front desk. RAPSCALLION grabbed the creature and tossed it down the hall toward the desk, and he then began dragging the officers that direction.

Around this time, the other agents arrived. The only outer doors open at this hour were the ones to the ER, and the inner doors they needed to get through were locked. There was a button with a plaque that said to ring for assistance. Agent SETH decided this was no time for formalities. Drawing his pistol, he fired two shots through the windows on the doors. He then reached through and opened them.

Gunshots only served to make the poor nurse’s night worse. She held her knees, rocked, and whimpered behind the desk. The other agents rounded the corner as the emergency exit doors at the end of the hall were forced open. The alarm rang out as two men in black suits walked in. Both groups eyed each other for a moment, and then Agent SETH identified himself by his real name and informed them that he was from INSCOM, Army Intelligence. The men in black nodded, and one identified them as NSA, but he gave no names. As a matter of national security, they were taking all evidence. Agent SETH told them they might not want to look in SÁBADO’s room.

The man in the black suit who had spoken before shook his head and informed SETH that as NSA field agents, it was all part of the job. The other man opened the door and immediately turned to vomit. The first man growled, rolled his eyes, and entered the room. While no one was looking, Agent SETH grabbed the remains of the creature and ran for the stairs. He found the incinerator, and stuffed the thing inside. After a few moments and wet, popping sounds, the job was done.

Curiosity and her morbid side got the better of Agent ROBIN who decided she just had to see what was so bad an NSA agent couldn’t keep down his dinner. She looked in to see the blood and gore all over the walls, floor and ceiling. She was only mildly disturbed as she turned back to the hall.

Agent RAPUNZEL asked the nurse where the security room was, and the poor woman pointed. RAPUNZEL asked her to open the door, but the nurse only ripped off her ID badge, threw it on the floor, and ran for the emergency exit. RAPUNZEL took the badge, and used it to gain access to the security room. She quickly got a hold of the security camera footage and erased it.

The man who entered the room emerged with the green canvas bag over his shoulder, and both NSA agents left the way they entered. It was then that Agent ROBIN smelled the smoke and … burning flesh? The sprinkler system kicked on as ROBIN looked in to confirm that the body on the floor was in deed on fire.

Their mission accomplished, the agents all fled the hospital before they had to answer uncomfortable questions from State Police, the Phoenix Fire Department, local news media, and anyone else who might be on the way.

Agent SETH reported the results of the mission to A-Cell through the secure, encrypted e-mail system, and he also informed them of the loss of Agent SÁBADO. For their part, whichever member of A-Cell who responded thanked the agents for successfully handling the Operation and stated that SÁBADO’s replacement should be ready in about a month. While it can be hard to analyze intent behind text-based communication, Agent SETH was a trained psychologist. He found it interesting that A-Cell thanked them for their work but didn’t congratulate them on success. It was also interesting, and mildly disturbing that A-Cell gave only a business-like response to the loss of an agent.

Both cells were glad to be done here in Arizona, and they all quickly returned to their home cities to get back to the comparatively safe business of Federal law enforcement.
 

Nomessiah

Villager
Handful of Dust - Introduction

R-Cell
Agent RAPSCALLION – Tatom Merzos – U.S. Marshall’s office, Special Operations
Agent RAPUNZEL – Yuki Anderson, FBI Forensic Pathologist, Leader of R-Cell
Agent ROBIN – Chika Takahashi, EPA Biologist and Environmental Scientist – Japanese-born naturalized citizen

S-Cell
Agent SAM – Gia Jones, FinCEN Investigator – Computer crimes specialist
Agent SETH – Ian Trotter, INSCOM Special Agent, Leader of S-Cell – Army Intelligence criminal psychologist
Agent SLEEPLESS - Reginald Longbottom, NSA Cult Infiltration Specialist

Former Agents
Agent RASPUTIN (retired) – Grigori Ruspokov, CDC Researcher/Surgeon – Russian-born naturalized citizen
Agent SÁBADO (deceased) – Marcus Hernandez, IRS Investigator – Computer crimes specialist


This Operation marks the first appearance of Agent SÁBADO’s replacement. Agent SLEEPLESS – so named because he suffers from insomnia and a fear of dreams – is an NSA field agent specializing in cult infiltration and dismantling. He is a small man, not particularly strong, and not particularly attractive; pretty much your perfect cultist. This Operation takes place after the agents have had a few months to relax and recover. It is mid-October.
 

Nomessiah

Villager
Handful of Dust - Session 1

Agents SETH and RAPUNZEL each received a phone call on their Delta Green phones. The voice on the other end identified herself as Section Chief Jane Turner of the FBI in Washington, DC. Their cells had been recommended to her by A-Cell, and she was instructed to invite them to a Night at the Opera. It was obvious she had never been on this end of an Opera invitation, but she handled the situation with authority. They were to contact their cells and instruct them to pack for about five days in the southwest, but first all agents were to meet her at the J. Edgar Hoover building in Washington the following day.

The agents all met up in Washington on the steps of the J. Edgar Hoover building and entered together. The inside was impressive, and the giant FBI logo on the floor drew their attention for a moment. An unremarkable man at the front desk asked if he could direct them. His badge identified him as Michael Bullen.

Agent SETH indicated that they had been summoned by Section Chief Turner, and the man nodded. He led them to a secure debriefing room and tossed a thin manila folder on the conference table.

“You may want to look that over first. Chief Turner will be with you shortly.”

Agent SAM took up the folder and examined its contents before passing it along. Inside was a single document; an FBI report detailing the New Coven of Salem. The original Coven was an old coven of witches supposedly descended from actual witches who had been executed during the Salem witch trials in the 17th Century. The Coven, based in Arkham, Massachusetts, had been eradicated in the late ‘30s by the Arkham Police Department. It consisted of about eighty members with an inner circle of thirteen. It was suspected that the New Coven of Salem consisted of about thirty members. The only known pattern of membership in the New Coven seemed to be that some of the members seemed to be grouping together in Alamogordo, New Mexico, and then moving to Arkham. It was suspected that the Coven restructuring was being coordinated in or near Alamogordo.

Just as the agents finished reading the report, a woman in her mid-30s entered the room. She was reasonably attractive with shoulder-length brown hair which was tied back, and she wore a black suit with a knee-length skirt. She introduced herself as Section Chief Jane Turner. Chief Turner apologized for the brevity of the meeting, but she was actually quite busy and had a meeting in about ten minutes. She got right down to business.

“I trust you’ve read the report? This case landed on my official desk yesterday, and I’m far too busy to handle it myself, so I’m being forced to hand it off. You come highly recommended. Recently, the Planning Committee decided that the New Mexico branch of the New Coven of Salem needed investigating. Well, five days ago, Boston police picked up a vagrant on charges of assaulting two women in a park.

“The man has claimed that he is Donald Allen McLeod, but his identity has yet to be verified. When questioned, the man said he had travelled to Boston from Powell, New Mexico. Powell is a small town about fifty miles north of Alamogordo, near the U.S. Military’s White Sands Missile Range. Bus ticket stubs in his pocket and several eye witnesses have confirmed this. He said he was travelling to Arkham to find the New Coven of Salem, but little more has been learned from him, even after repeated interviews.”

Agents SETH and SLEEPLESS expressed interest in interviewing the man themselves, and Section Chief Turner said that could be arranged. She mentioned that FBI Psychiatrist Doctor Aaron Fairbanks had interviewed McLeod, and was convinced that the man was incurably insane. His prognosis was delusion and psychosis. Chief Turner went on to say that the agents were booked on an overnight flight to Alamogordo at 11:00 PM.

“There you will be met by Detective Ferrell of the Alamogordo Police Department. He will provide a police vehicle, and you will proceed immediately to Powell to conduct a preliminary investigation into the status of the cult. Officially, you are not to take any action, but to report back to Washington once you have any conclusive evidence of illegal activities. Unofficially, however …”

She paused briefly, biting her lip.

“I understand this is a Delta Green operation, and so obviously you will have to do what you have to do. If things go very wrong, I’ll do my best to provide covering paperwork. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I really must go. You’ll have about seven hours to conduct investigation and inquiry here before your flight leaves from Ronald Regan National. The evidence lockers, and the prisoner are located downstairs.”

She then quickly turned and exited. Okay then. The agents had a few things to look into. They all headed down to the evidence locker, and Agent RAPUNZEL signed for the evidence. The guard placed a tray on the table and then left them to examine it. The contents of the tray were as follows:

Three tubes of toothpaste: two empty, one full; two dead cockroaches; twenty-three bus tickets documenting trips between various towns between Powell, New Mexico and Boston, Massachusetts; $53.25 in various bills and coins; and a yellowed birth certificate for Donald Allen McLeod, born in Danver’s General Hospital in Massachusetts on April 23rd, 1893.

Agent SETH quickly did the math. That would make the man 116 years old. He decided it was time to pay Mr. McLeod a visit. Agents SETH and SLEEPLESS went to the man’s cell, and they were allowed in. The other agents took the evidence to the FBI laboratory to run some quick tests.

Agent RAPUNZEL used every piece of equipment at her disposal to determine just how the cockroaches died. They weren’t poisoned, and it wasn’t physical trauma. The only tool that gave any clue was the Geiger counter. Apparently, the cockroaches had died from too much radiation. This realization made her a little apprehensive about a trip to a town near a former nuclear testing site.

The agents also determines that the two empty tubes of toothpaste had traces of saliva. It seemed Mr. McLeod had eaten the contents. This was also mildly disturbing, but it wasn’t anything compared to what they’d seen only a few months earlier.

SETH and SLEEPLESS examined the man, and the condition of his cell. McLeod looked like a common hobo in his late-40s or early-50s. He wore an old suit and dirty shirt, and his hair and beard were unkempt. The man himself, as well as the floor, walls, and ceiling were all covered in a grainy dust. They asked him several questions, but they were unable to get much out of him other than that he felt the wind was blowing him to pieces.

Agent SETH called for the guards and Doctor Fairbanks. He demanded to know how the prisoner could be left in this condition. Doctor Fairbanks said simply “Touch him.”

Agent SETH touched McLeod’s arm, and the grainy dust stuck to his hand. As he brushed it away, he and Agent SLEEPLESS noticed that the dust slowly flowed back to cover the clean spot on the man’s arm.

The doctor informed them that the first day, the guards washed the man down every couple hours, but it did no good. Likewise, thoroughly cleaning the cell did no good. Agent SETH asked if McLeod had been weighed when he was brought in. The doctor indicated that all his measurements and prints were taken upon his arrest five days ago. He was 143 lbs.

SETH asked for a scale to be brought in, and they weighed the man. He had apparently lost four pounds in five days. The agents demanded to know what the prisoner was being fed, and how much he was eating. The doctor replied that McLeod would eat nothing but toothpaste because he believed it helped keep him from blowing away.

They decided they had enough for now, and they joined the other agents in the laboratory to discuss the evidence.
 

Nomessiah

Villager
Handful of Dust - Session 2

Upon hearing about the dust, Agents RAPUNZEL and ROBIN were very interested in running some tests. Agent SETH got them a sample of the dust which appeared pale blue – almost white – under the microscope or when enough of it was piled together.

During chemical analysis, Agent RAPUNZEL managed to thoroughly contaminate and then destroy the sample, so Agent SETH got her another. On the second try, they managed to determine its composition. The dust contained exactly the same elements in the same proportions as would be found in the typical human body – with one exception. There was no hydrogen or oxygen at all. It seemed all traces of water had been removed somehow.

It was quickly getting to be time to head to the airport. Agent SLEEPLESS stopped for coffee, but everyone made the flight on time. The layover in Memphis took an hour or so longer than expected, and so they didn’t land in Alamogordo until 9:00 AM.

Detective Farrell was there to meet them, and after a warm greeting, and a bit of small talk, he led them to the vehicle provided by the Alamogordo Police Department. It was a white Ford Explorer. Detective Farrell offered them the use of the police station facilities and equipment if they needed it, and then he wished them luck as they drove off with Agent SETH behind the wheel. They made it to a nearby hotel before realizing that this vehicle just wasn’t going to meet their needs. It may have been free, but the air-conditioning didn’t work, and RAPUNZEL’s seatbelt wouldn’t latch. This meant that if she didn’t hold the buckle in place, the dashboard would beep at her for the entire trip. SETH dropped everyone off at the hotel, and then he and Agent RAPSCALLION returned to the airport to ditch the Explorer in favor of two rental cars.

As Agent SAM was from Santa Fe, and RAPSCALLION wanted to hit up the green box there, they took a short road trip. Agent SAM stopped at her house to grab extra clothes while RAPSCALLION headed for Unit #35 at the Extra Space Storage facility. As he raised the garage-style door, he noticed the unit was fairly empty. There were three paperback books; The Nephilim Chronicles: Fallen Angels in the Ohio Valley, Nuclear Weapons: A Very Short Introduction, and S&M: The Last Taboo; ten brown office envelopes tied with string; a Crown Royal bag of what appeared to be homemade caltrops; a Nintendo 64 controller; a glass blob containing several human teeth; a surgical glove filled with dead red ants; and a wooden case lined with felt padding and containing two small glass spheres filled with silvery powder. Agent RAPSCALLION grabbed the books, envelopes, and wooden case before locking the unit up and heading back to get Agent SAM.

Once the agents were back together, they piled into the vehicles for the trip to Powell. It was a long, boring drive down a very straight desert highway, and somehow both SETH and RAPSCALLION both missed the dirt road to Powell, and they only realized this when they saw the sign welcoming them to Colorado. They were already about five hours behind schedule. What harm could another hour do?

On their way back south, they found the little dirt road leading to Powell. It was quite bumpy, and about half-way to town, Agent RAPSCALLION got a flat tire. It was easily changed, and by about 5:00 PM, they rolled into town. Powell was a small town, and it strongly resembled a town from a spaghetti Western which had been modernized sometime around the turn of the century. The roads were dirt, the buildings were wooden, and every so often, a tumbleweed would roll down the street. There weren’t many vehicles, and for that matter, there weren’t many people out walking either.

The first thing they passed on their way into town was an old, stone well. Next to the well laid the body of a man with a large hole through the heart of his suit and a matching one out the back. He was quite obviously dead, and there was a cloud of flies around him. The agents got out of their vehicles to examine the body. Agent SAM found a stick, and despite SETH’s protest, she poked the body in several places. This had two mildly disgusting effects. First, the body released gases, and second, the mouth opened to reveal swarming maggots.

Agent RAPUNZEL checked the pockets while SETH questioned a couple of guys who were casually strolling past. They didn’t even seem to notice the body until it was pointed out to them, and even then they seemed reasonably sure the man was just resting. The man had a wallet containing a photo ID, a $5 bill, a credit card, and two library cards. The cards identified the man as Simon Horn of Chicago. He was also carrying a hotel key labelled ‘#3’.

The wind picked up, and a tumbleweed rolled past. Agent ROBIN thought she could hear whispering, but she couldn’t be sure.

After examining the body, the cells split up. S-Cell went to investigate the saloon/hotel, and R-Cell paid a visit to the sheriff to inform him of the body by the well. As S-Cell approached the saloon, they could hear a song by Conway Twitty playing on the jukebox in the corner, and several citizens were inside talking. As they entered, the talking stopped briefly, and when it resumed, it was in more hushed tones. Agent SAM engaged the bartender in conversation. She had noticed that her phone wasn’t getting reception, and she couldn’t find an internet signal, so she asked the bartender about it. He didn’t know anything about the internet, but if she wanted to use the phone, she was welcome to do so. She tried this, but the phone was very old with no dial, and when she picked up the ear piece, there was no dial tone or operator. She decided to order a couple drinks instead. It took her all of ten minutes to drink her Rum and Coke, and her Long Island Iced Tea.

Meanwhile, Agent SETH had slipped upstairs to find four doors; three with numbers, and one unmarked. He tried the key in door three, and it opened. The room was dark and rather sparsely decorated. There was a bed, and an end table with a kerosene lamp, and a bible. He noticed a faint clicking sound and followed it to its source. Prying up the floorboard with his knife, Agent SETH found a hollow space with a clicking Geiger counter which was reading about 85 or so clicks per minute, a bundle of sticks with a black feather, and a note pad with some mildly disturbing notes. The note pad said things like “the sheriff and wife don’t seem trustworthy”, “to run is to die”, “Jack Pena has answers”, and “he says the answers are in ‘THE RANCH’”. Agent SETH headed back downstairs and shared his findings with the rest of his cell.

R-Cell drove the two blocks or so to the sheriff’s office and parked outside. The inside looked like something out of the Andy Griffith show. The sheriff was tall and well-built, and if not for the sunglasses, he could easily have stepped right from an old Western movie. RAPUNZEL and RAPSCALLION both noticed the gun rack behind the sheriff’s desk. It had room for two rifles, but there was only one there at the moment. Agent RAPUNZEL notified the sheriff of the body near the well, and he didn’t seem surprised. He stated that he’d have someone get right on that as soon as things settled down a bit. He said he was quite busy with all the paperwork, and he waved a hand to indicate his rather uncluttered desk. He also warned them not to touch the body, or he’d have to arrest them for interfering with an investigation.

Agent RAPSCALLION informed the sheriff that he was a U.S. Marshall, and he showed his badge. For his part, the sheriff was quite unimpressed. He simply grinned and pointed to the badge on his chest.

“I have one, too. Mine’s a star, and it says ‘sheriff’. That means I’m in charge here, so if you’ll kindly allow me to do my job …?”

He leaned back in his chair, and his spurs jangled a bit as he put his feet up on the desk. He placed his hands behind his head and yawned.

The agents of R-Cell bid the sheriff good day, and they exited the office to find that all the air had been let out of their tires. Agent RAPSCALLION drove the vehicle anyway, and about two blocks later, they arrived at the gas station. They were irritated to find that there was no air pump, and there were no spare tires for sale. They gathered their gear and walked back to S-Cell’s vehicle.

Agent SETH wanted to interview the Jack Pena mentioned in the notebook, and so RAPSCALLION guarded the vehicle as the other agents headed to Mr. Pena’s camp. On their way, they passed a poorly maintained graveyard and a small stone chapel in the colonial Spanish style.

Agent SAM decided to take a closer look at the chapel despite SETH’s protest that it was unimportant compared to interviewing Mr. Pena, and that there would be plenty of time later. Again the wind picked up, and this time SETH and SLEEPLESS both thought they could hear whispering of some sort, but Agent SAM was sure she could. She could actually make out at least three whispered voices on the wind. She couldn’t tell if they were male or female, but they seemed to be pleading for her to help them, and to “destroy that which dwells in the well”. One voice called her by name. She informed Agent SETH of what she heard, and the agents all decided to head back to the well they passed on the way into town.
 

Nomessiah

Villager
Handful of Dust - Session 3a

There was a brief discussion about how to proceed. Given the whispers she’d just heard on the wind, Agent SAM wanted to go take a second look at the well they passed when they first arrived in town. It was eventually decided that Agents SETH and RAPSCALLION should guard the group’s other rental car while everyone else checked on the well. They all headed back to the vehicle since it was on the way to the well, but before they split up, the agents saw a truck pull up in front of the well down the street. There were two men in the cab and three in the bed. The three in the back hopped out and just stood around the body which had apparently not yet been collected.

Agent SETH got in the passenger side of the vehicle while the other five agents stood outside keeping an eye on the well. Not long after, the sheriff could be heard whistling as he walked down the street. As he passed the agents, he tipped his hat in a friendly manner. A child of about ten or eleven came running out of the saloon yelling and waving, and so the sheriff tipped his hat once again, took a coin from his pocket, and flipped it to the kid. For his part, the kid caught the coin and ran back inside happily.

The agents watched all of this with a mix of interest and suspicion. The sheriff continued on until he reached the men by the well. They had a brief conversation which ended with the sheriff tipping his hat and turning to return to the office while the men tossed the body in the back of the truck, hopped in with it, and sped off out of town to the northwest. Another brief discussion followed, and RAPSCALLION ended up watching the vehicle while SETH slept, and the others left to interview Jack Pena.

Jack Pena’s camp wasn’t much to look at; several junked cars forming a circle, and tarps elevated by trees, posts, and ropes to act like tents. At one end of the camp was a very old Navajo woman with thick glasses who was busy painting pottery. In the center was a Navajo man of about 80 years sitting in a lawn chair and tending a small camp fire. There was a television on a table nearby which was plugged in to a generator which was not running at the moment. Quick questioning confirmed that this man was indeed Jack Pena.

Agent ROBIN decided the old woman was more interesting, and so she approached to see what was being painted. The woman didn’t seem to notice ROBIN’s approach, but when the agent spoke up to compliment the pottery work, the old woman turned. The lenses of her glasses were quite thick, and even at this distance, the woman squinted and leaned forward to see who had spoken.

Agent ROBIN and the old woman had a friendly discussion about the artwork on her pottery; she had been painting T-shaped totem poles with animals dangling from them. Apparently, these totem poles were outside “the Ranch”, and though the woman seemed like she never went far from camp, she said she sees the poles “most nights”.

Jack Pena was quite helpful as well. He seemed happy to answer questions, but he warned them that the Ranch was a dangerous place. He said “the key to releasing Rhagorthua” could be found there. Agent RAPUNZEL recognized the name from somewhere – a book, a television show, a half-heard conversation. Where she’d heard the name wasn’t particularly important at the moment. What was important was that the name belonged to a spirit creature of some sort – a demon-god – who had taken over the entrance to the underworld. Jack Pena confirmed this, and he added that this demon-god dwelt in a bottomless well somewhere in the desert.

Sometime in the late 1940’s, Jack told them, a couple of detectives passed through the area on the trail of some magic or other which could help in their investigation in New England. The investigators were searching for eternal life, but instead they stumbled into Rhagorthua’s well and their bodies were consumed. Their spirits supposedly still wandered the desert in search of their elusive magic.

Jack was also able to confirm that the Ranch was northwest of town; the same direction the truck had gone after collecting the body by the well. It seemed the next step was to investigate this Ranch. The agents headed back to the vehicle to discuss their findings with RAPSCALLION and SETH, but they only made it into visual range of the vehicle before they saw something which would change the entire course of the night, and probably not for the better.

Agent RAPSCALLION had been quietly reading a book from the green box while standing outside the driver’s side door. There was a loud thud across the street, and he looked up just in time to see a rock bounce into the dirt road, apparently after having hit the building. As he was watching the rock, there were two loud hisses from behind him, and the vehicle settled much lower on the passenger side. As he turned, RAPSCALLION saw the kid from the saloon running down the street in the direction of the sheriff’s office, or maybe the general store. He had slashed the passenger side tires.

This was their only remaining vehicle, and apparently there wasn’t a spare tire to be found in the whole town, so Agent RAPSCALLION wasn’t about to let this go. He dropped the book and took a few steps in the direction of the running child while drawing his pistol! He took aim, and though it was getting dark, he took one shot. Part of the child’s head blew off, and the body hit the dirt. RAPSCALLION approached the body, and it was then that the other agents rounded the corner to see about ten people with shotguns, rifles, and handguns running out of the saloon to see what had just happened. The people raised their guns and aimed them at Agent RAPSCALLION, but before they could fire, Agent SLEEPLESS (who was living up to his name by currently operating on about 40 hours without sleep) decided that the “cultists” needed to die, and he drew his own gun.

SLEEPLESS fired his Glock-18 on auto into the crowd, and seconds later, only two were left standing. Most ordinary small-town citizens would probably dive for cover, cower, play dead … Not these citizens. The two left standing turned and fired their rifles at Agent SLEEPLESS. Just as quickly as he had thinned their group, they thinned him. His lifeless body dropped right at RAPUNZEL’s feet.

Agent ROBIN ran for the vehicle, Agent SAM ran for the SALOON, Agent RAPSCALLION dove for the alley, and Agent RAPUNZEL fired her pistol wildly and only managed to kill a bottle of some blue liquor inside the saloon. Before the two remaining men could fire their rifles at RAPUNZEL, Agent RAPSCALLION peeked around the corner and fired his pistol, killing both men.

All of this gunfire had apparently drawn the sheriff’s attention as he was now jogging down the street in their direction. He had seen RAPSCALLION firing his gun, and so he spoke into the walkie-talkie he was carrying, and he pointed down the alley. Agent RAPUNZEL fired at the sheriff and knocked the hat off his head. The sheriff spoke into his walkie-talkie again, and this time he pointed at RAPUNZEL. Agent RAPSCALLION could hear him clearly by now, and he heard the sheriff say “Scratch that. Get her!”

Agent ROBIN had started the car, rolled down the power window, and fired a couple of meaningless shots, and she now decided that a better course of action would be to drive as quickly as possible down the road toward the sheriff. Unfortunately for her, she wasn’t much of a driver. She was worse under this kind of pressure, and she was totally unprepared for driving a vehicle of this size with two slashed tires. As she floored the accelerator, the Ford Explorer veered hard to the right, and instead of flying down the dirt road like she had pictured, she flew through the door of the saloon. This took the dozen or so citizens on their way out completely by surprise, and about two-thirds of them were dragged along under the vehicle as it plowed through the bar and over the bartender. As the wall of booze crashed to the floor, Agent SAM hopped into the car. Through all of this, Agent SETH managed to snore.

Agent RAPUNZEL was dead on her feet and falling when the shot was heard. It seemed a sniper had caught her right in the heart. This was a bit too much for Agent RAPSCALLION, and so he snuck away down the alley looking for an escape route. Reaching the rear of the buildings, he scanned the area. To the right was the well, and the road back to the highway. Straight ahead across a wide open space was the old church with the poorly maintained graveyard. To the left was the sheriff’s car, parked quietly in the dark.

Nodding to himself, Agent RAPSCALLION ran toward the sheriff’s car. As he ran, dirt kicked up near his feet, and a shot could be heard. This was his second Opera, and this was his second Opera being narrowly missed by a sniper as he ran. He didn’t have much time to enjoy his good fortune, however. A few seconds later, there was a ringing in his ears, and his vision went red. His face felt wet and warm. Upon reaching the sheriff’s car, a mirror confirmed his suspicion. The sniper had put a round directly into his face, but by some small miracle, it had passed clean through seemingly without damaging anything more vital than his profile.
 

Nomessiah

Villager
Handful of Dust - Session 3b

ROBIN threw the car into reverse and floored it again, but all this did was throw up glass, alcohol, and bloody gore. Fortunately for everyone in the vehicle, things were so chaotic, and the lighting was bad enough that it wasn’t immediately obvious that eight or nine people were being ground to a pulp under the vehicle. Instead, what was immediately obvious was that the car wasn't going anywhere any time soon. The agents (including the recently awakened Agent SETH) exited the vehicle.

The ladies checked the bathroom for an exit, and Agent SETH just ran for the front door and out into the night. Like the rest of the downstairs in the hotel/saloon, the bathrooms had no windows. Agent SAM tested the wall with her shoulder, but it was solid. SAM and ROBIN decided to head upstairs, and opening the first door they found, they looked out the window. Maybe fifteen feet away, there was a tree. SAM jumped first, and she barely grabbed a branch which broke under her weight, but it slowed her enough that she landed uninjured. ROBIN followed, and she experienced similar results. They looked around and saw the same things Agent RAPSCALLION had seen. They also made the same decision, and they ran for the sheriff’s car.

When they reached it, they saw RAPSCALLION fumbling around, apparently trying to steal the car stereo. When SAM asked what he was doing, he admitted that he was trying to hotwire the car, but he wasn’t quite sure how to go about it. Agent SAM smiled and told him to move over. This was a particular specialty of hers. It took a bit of doing, but she got the car started. Meanwhile, Agent ROBIN had been keeping watch. She noticed the same truck from the well pull up and grab two bodies from the street before driving off to the northwest. Two bodies from where Agent SLEEPLESS was shot … That must mean Agent RAPUNZEL had died as well.

With SLEEPLESS and RAPUNZEL dead, and SETH missing, that meant only half of their team remained not even ten minutes after the first shots had been fired. The general consensus seemed to be something along the lines of “screw this town”. With the car started, Agent SAM announced her plan to storm the Ranch. RAPSCALLION then announced his plan to completely avoid SAM’s plan. He then got out of the car, and ROBIN took his place. She didn’t like the idea of going to the Ranch, but she liked the idea of staying here even less. Agents SAM and ROBIN sped off to the northwest without an argument.

RAPSCALLION looked through the back door of the sheriff’s office. There was a light on somewhere inside, and the door was locked anyway, so he moved on to the next building. As luck would have it, the next building was the general store, and the door was easily forced open. Luck turned out to be a merciless bitch, however, because it was soon obvious that there wasn’t much in here that could be salvaged. There was no order to the shelves, and even if there had been, the place was so poorly kept that no sane customer would ever shop here. Dog food cans spilled onto toothpaste tubes and boxes of tea, the refrigerated section had flickering lights, but judging by the smell, it had no refrigeration. There were no bandages or paper towels. There were only matches and a grill-lighter with a trigger.

The U.S. Marshall knew he needed to stop the bleeding, and he knew fire could do that. He wasn’t excited about putting a lighter to his cheek, but the last thing he wanted right now was to pass out from loss of blood. Plus, after cauterizing the wound, these matches and the lighter could be put to further use. This hell-hole of a town was almost completely made of very dry wood.

Agents RAPUNZEL and SLEEPLESS awoke in a poorly lit jail or dungeon cell. Yeah, they each felt sure they’d been shot dead, and their clothes had the holes and still-wet blood to prove it, and yet here they were. RAPUNZEL had a very difficult time handling this, and her body seemed to twitch periodically. She also had uncontrollable urges to scream, curse, or just make random noises. Agent SLEEPLESS looked calmly around the cell, but this only lasted a moment. As soon as he realized he was trapped in a room of stone and iron with no caffeine, amphetamines, energy drinks, B-Vitamins … The ugly specter of inevitable sleep was obvious. His screams were louder and more disturbing than those of his fellow agent.

RAPUNZEL looked around for a way out, but all she could see were walls, bars, and Jack Pena in a cell across from them. Well, that was something at least. She called to him, and he lifted his head to look at her. He was sitting cross-legged, and he had his arms crossed over his chest with his hands on his shoulders.

She asked what he was doing here, and his reply was that he had been brought to witness the end. The old Navajo offered what he felt were words of comfort.

“Our pain will be short. Rhagorthua will soon destroy all. Nothing is forever except the earth, and the mountains, and the Great Old Ones which live beneath them.”

SLEEPLESS continued to scream and look around desperately for any caffeine at all; it had only been a few minutes, but in his current situation, he would probably even have settled for a flat Diet Pepsi. Agent RAPUNZEL had her own problems, but with the exception of uncontrollable tics, twitches, and noises, she did a good job of keeping her cool.

She asked Jack if he knew of a way out, and the old man nodded slowly. “Your cell has a tunnel, but it won’t do you much good. Rhagorthua will arrive soon, and he will consume the world. It is too late.”

When she asked where this tunnel was, Jack nodded and pointed with his eyes. Neither agent was able to follow his gaze, but it was apparent that he was unable to point with anything else. He explained that when he woke in his cell, his hands and feet were stuck to his shoulders and knees. He couldn’t move, but it was just as well. The demon-god was coming.

The agents looked around their cell and soon found a loose stone in the floor. They were both relatively small and weak, however, and so it took all they had to lift the stone enough to prop open the tunnel. After a short rest, they pushed the stone further out of the way. Now here was the part where being small could pay off. The tunnel was dark and narrow, but the agents felt sure they could fit. RAPUNZEL went first, and SLEEPLESS followed. After what seemed like several minutes, the tunnel let out into a large, dark room which felt like a freezer. They didn’t have a thermometer, but RAPUNZEL decided that if she were to guess, she’d say it was probably below zero. As their eyes had pretty much adjusted to the dark, they looked around the room to see twenty or so mostly-naked bodies hanging by chains from hooks in the stone ceiling.

The sheriff’s car approached the Ranch, and slivers of light could be seen through boarded up windows. There was a rusting iron fence leaning at unsafe angles around the Ranch, but that wasn’t going to stop Agent SAM. She hit the gas and crashed right through the fence sending iron and dirt flying. The car came to a stop at the base of a large T-shaped totem pole which held a dead raven hanging by its feet. This totem pole was one of four which were visible under the light of the radiated New Mexico moon. ROBIN and SAM saw a porch swing up on the front porch, and now deciding it was time for the stealthy approach, they snuck up to the front door.
 
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Nomessiah

Villager
Handful of Dust - Session 4a

Agents RAPUNZEL and SLEEPLESS made their way through the freezer of hanging bodies to the large metal door on the other side. Pushing it open, they emerged into a hallway lit only sporadically by flickering fluorescent lights. There were a few doors to choose from, and the hall led a couple directions as well. The walls, floor, and ceiling were all stone, and the architecture didn’t seem to follow general standards. Rooms and halls were oddly shaped and angled.

The agents opted for the door more or less straight across from them, and it led to a diesel generator and several steel drums. Neither agent had the faintest idea how to operate or shut down the generator, so they made note of the fuel, and left. They passed a few doors and a spiral staircase leading up as they continued down the poorly lit hall. After a few twists and turns, it let out into the dungeon from which they’d just escaped. RAPUNZEL briefly considered freeing the old Navajo, but considering that he couldn’t move on his own, and he’d pretty much accepted the end of everything, she thought better of it. She did get a close look at the man however, and when she did, she realized that not only were his hands and feet fused to the rest of his body, but he also had holes; holes that should probably have killed him. One hole was clean through where one of his lungs should have been. Without a word to Agent SLEEPLESS, she screamed and ran as fast as she could back down the hallway.

Agent SETH had slept through the slashing of the tires. He had slept through the gunfire. Rhagorthua’s dreams and whispers kept him in a deep sleep, but even a Great Old One couldn’t make a Delta Green agent sleep through the rampage and wreck in the saloon. He had run off into the night and found a dark quiet place to collect his thoughts. Once he was sure he was back in control, he decided he needed to find his fellow agents, and the Opera seemed to be calling them all in the direction of the Ranch.

He made his way to the old church and up to the bell tower to get a view of the area. With his night-vision binoculars, he could do just that. Everything was green, but at least he could see. He scanned the horizon and found a ranch house to the northwest. Scanning the town, the only movement he saw came from the rear of the general store. He couldn’t make out who the person was, but he decided to keep watching.

Agent RAPSCALLION had just emerged from the general store after cauterizing the hole in his face with a grill lighter. He snuck through the darkest patches until he made it to the front door of the saloon. He entered and looked for any alcohol he could use for fuel. All he found was a bottle of cheap beer, and various liquors pooling with blood on the floor of the bar. He drank the beer, lit a rag on fire, dipped it in the bloody alcohol mixture, and waited for it to ignite. Once he was satisfied that the fire would spread, he left the building through the front door. Agent SETH watched as RAPSCALLION then made his way to the sheriff’s office.

Agents SAM and ROBIN approached the front door of the Ranch. It was a heavy double-door. One side appeared barred, but the other side opened easily. They stepped inside to find a small entry room. There were a few doors to choose from, a hallway leading to the left, and a staircase straight ahead. They took the hall, and it wound around in an odd way. There were several doors they didn’t try, but the one they did led to a kitchen and a pantry. Poking around in the pantry revealed a hidden door in the wall which opened into another hallway.

It was upon passing through this door that they heard a voice shouting profanity in what seemed to be alphabetical order. The agents decided to follow the sound of the voice, and when they made it back to the entryway of the ranch, there was a loud thud behind one of the doors. Agent SAM opened the door to see Agent RAPUNZEL. Agents SAM and ROBIN had seen RAPUNZEL gunned down by sniper fire in the town, and they had seen her body tossed carelessly in the back of a truck. Now, here she was breathing, smiling, swearing. Agent ROBIN went for her gun shouting “She’s dead! Why are you taking this form?!”, and so RAPUNZEL slammed the door and put all her weight against it. For her part, Agent SAM turned away from the door looking for another direction to take. She saw a figure in the dark hall, and when the flickering lights cooperated, the hallway lit to reveal what appeared to be a cactus with human features wearing a suit. She approached the figure, and as the lights went back out, it seemed to run away down the hall. Agent SAM followed while ROBIN tried unsuccessfully to force open the door.

Just around the corner, Agent SAM caught up with the cactus man and questioned him. He said his name was Simon Horn. That was the name of the corpse they’d found near the well upon reaching Powell, and now that she thought about it, the cactus man did resemble the body. He didn’t seem to know he had become half cactus, and when SAM pointed this out, he didn’t seem to believe her. Agent SAM made it clear that she didn’t trust him, but she agreed to show him to the front door. When they got to the entryway, Agent ROBIN stopped beating against the door, blinked at the cactus man, screamed, and ran up the stairs. That’s when RAPUNZEL opened the door and stepped through.

Agent SLEEPLESS followed the direction RAPUNZEL had run, but he took his time. The first room he checked seemed to be a torture room of some sort. The second room held a giant mass of flesh, faces, and limbs. SLEEPLESS calmly shut the door and walked on down the hall. He found another freezer room, and this one actually held frozen foods. Once all the doors had been checked, he headed up the same stairs RAPUNZEL had taken.

Agent SETH watched the figure through his night-vision binoculars. That figure snuck up to the front door of the sheriff’s office and shot the lock with two rounds from a pistol. With the lock destroyed, the figure entered. SETH decided to climb down from the bell tower and check out the sheriff’s office. Agent RAPSCALLION turned as SETH entered, and they recognized each other. After a brief discussion, they decided to make their way to the Ranch as quickly as they could.
 

Nomessiah

Villager
Handful of Dust - Session 4b

Agent RAPUNZEL could almost feel her skin moving, and it felt scratchy. Seeing the cactus man made her pause. Was she turning into a cactus? Was she turning into something else? Was she blowing away like Donald Allen McLeod? Should she be adding toothpaste to her diet?

She asked the man how he came to be a cactus, and he seemed sure the two agents were playing some cruel joke on him. He explained that he was no cactus; he was a reporter from Chicago. RAPUNZEL commented that he was a man getting in touch with his inner tequila.

Agent SLEEPLESS took the first door he saw upon reaching the ground floor. The room was a dark computer room with four terminals along a wall. The room had a broken, barred, and shuttered window through which the wind blew. Anyone but SLEEPLESS and RAPUNZEL would feel the breeze as gentle. Agent SLEEPLESS only felt as if his skin was being scraped away with sandpaper. He didn’t remain in the room long.

ROBIN made it to the top of the stairs, and she was still pretty disturbed by all she’d seen lately. The night was not about to let up, however. The landing at the top of the stairs was as poorly lit as the rest of the Ranch. The flickering lights didn’t do much to help her mood, and neither did the two men playing dominos. They wore what looked to be old fashioned suits, but in this light, it was hard to tell. They didn’t take much notice of her until she raised her gun.

When the lights came on for a moment, she could easily see through the men and the table. This helped her mood even less than the lighting situation. She screamed again, and yelled “Why do you take these forms?!” before rushing through the first door she found.

This door led to a room which might have really disturbed any sane individual, but given Agent ROBIN’s current state of mind and her secret love of taxidermy, she felt oddly at ease. The dog with ostrich feet for legs and an ant-eater’s snout for a head didn’t bother her. Neither did the calf with the monkey’s head and human arms instead of legs. She decided her personal favorite was the two bobcats sewn together at the side. One had a man’s head, and the other a woman’s. Everything outside was crazy. This felt right.

Agents SETH and RAPSCALLION finally made it to the Ranch, and they found the sheriff’s vehicle in the yard. SETH was able to re-hotwire the car easily, and once it started up, he turned on the lights and held down the horn. It was a good bet that everyone and everything in the immediate area was now alerted, but in SETH’s estimation, that didn’t matter. What mattered was getting the agents as far away from Powell, New Mexico as possible.

Agent SAM was the first out the door, and she was the first in the car. ROBIN had finally calmed herself down, and now that she could think straight, she ran out of the room and down the stairs only to find the cactus man still in the entry way. She screamed and shot the cactus man in the chest. He slumped against the wall as she ran out the door.

This left Agent RAPUNZEL in the entry way and SLEEPLESS on his way to see what the shooting was about. When they came face to face, the two formerly dead agents drew and fired their guns. SLEEPLESS missed, and RAPUNZEL dropped him with the single shot. As she ran out the front door, SLEEPLESS hit the ground and began to disintegrate rapidly.

The other four agents were already in the car, and there was some debate as to whether or not to let RAPUNZEL join them. Ultimately, she was allowed in. The car sped off into the desert night, but it didn’t go far before RAPUNZEL and ROBIN both wanted out. There was something to the north that was calling to them. SETH slammed on the brakes, and let them know just what he thought of their plan. Agent RAPSCALLION had faith in his Cell leader, and so he too got out of the car. The wind had been picking up recently, and it was now pretty strongly blowing to the north. Agents SETH and SAM sped off to the east knowing that soon they’d find the highway.

R-Cell walked north, and soon the wind was so strong that they could only see what was right in front of them. They heard a sound, and then they saw lights. A truck sped past them, and a few moments later, there was a sound of breaking, twisting metal. They eventually came upon the wrecked truck, but there was no driver. They continued walking north, and RAPUNZEL decided not to bother anyone with the fact that she was literally blowing away with the wind.

Eventually, they came upon two men playing dominos. There was a faint chanting in the distance, and after a brief conversation with the two men, all three agents of R-Cell realized what was happening. The well was out there. Rhagorthua was in the well. Someone from the Ranch was at the well and trying to resurrect Rhagorthua.

R-Cell ran off to the north with the sandstorm at their backs only to find the sheriff and a tall woman with long black hair and an assault rifle standing in their way. Deciding there was no time to talk, they opened fire, missing completely. The sheriff and the woman fired back, and the agents hit the ground. Only RAPSCALLION had the nerves to fight under these conditions, and he was effective. He quickly and easily killed both targets.

The agents continued toward the now feverish chanting. What they found was a large, heavyset man with his arms in the air. It was difficult to see much more with the wind and sand as bad as they were. Agent ROBIN was the only one close enough to do anything, and so she ran to the edge of the well. She looked down into infinity with a wild smile, and in that instant, the wind stopped blowing into the well. Another instant later, it all came blowing back up. Everything went white, and the agents of R-Cell never even felt their flesh melt.

Agents SETH and SAM were speeding south toward Alamogordo when they noticed the mushroom cloud in the rearview mirror. SETH quietly said “A-Cell is gonna be pissed.” With that, he turned on the radio and headed for the airport.
 

Nomessiah

Villager
Good Intentions - Introduction

R-Cell
(empty)

S-Cell
Agent SAM – Gia Jones, FinCEN Investigator – Computer crimes specialist
Agent SETH – Ian Trotter, INSCOM Special Agent, Leader of S-Cell – Army Intelligence criminal psychologist
Agent SID - Cramer Gump, INSCOM "Black" Ops Agent

Former Agents
Agent RAPSCALLION (deceased) – Tatom Merzos – U.S. Marshall’s office, Special Operations
Agent RAPUNZEL (deceased) – Yuki Anderson, FBI Forensic Pathologist
Agent RASPUTIN (retired) – Grigori Ruspokov, CDC Researcher/Surgeon – Russian-born naturalized citizen
Agent ROBIN (deceased) – Chika Takahashi, EPA Biologist and Environmental Scientist – Japanese-born naturalized citizen
Agent SÁBADO (deceased) – Marcus Hernandez, IRS Investigator – Computer crimes specialist
Agent SLEEPLESS (deceased) - Reginald Longbottom, NSA Cult Infiltration Specialist


This Opera was intended to be a quick one. Half the group was out, but we had the two surviving Agents, SETH and SAM, and Agent RAPSCALLION’s player came in with Master Sergeant Cramer Gump, INSCOM “Black” Ops Agent and Delta Green Friendly who became Agent SID by the end. We picked up the action the same night as the end of the previous Opera; less than an hour after all of R-Cell had been lost.
 

Nomessiah

Villager
Good Intentions - Session 1a

Sergeant Gump’s official assignment was to track and capture Garrett Duncan, an AWOL Army Electronic Warfare Technician who was believed to be responsible for extensive anti-government, anti-military rants in various online forums and blogs. Sergeant Gump’s investigation led him to downtown Phoenix, AZ. He believed Duncan had an apartment there.

Sergeant Gump’s plane landed at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport just before midnight, and so he caught a cab to the hotel nearest his target destination, checked in and ordered room service, and then turned in for the night.

That same night, Agents SETH and SAM were headed south toward Alamogordo in a stolen police cruiser. It was about 45 minutes after the desert was nuked that Agent SETH’s secure DG phone rang. He pulled the car over to the shoulder of the road and answered the phone.

“Agent SETH.”

“Mind telling me just what the hell happened?” It was Agent ADAM, and it turned out that SETH was right. A-Cell was indeed pissed.

Agent SETH explained that he couldn’t be expected to run a smooth Operation when 2/3 of his team were insane or incompetent. He started to give ADAM a rundown of the day’s activities, but he was cut short. He only managed to relay the information that, to his knowledge, he and Agent SAM were the only survivors.


“Agent SETH, this is the biggest screw up in Delta Green history. Your team is sent to investigate a possible recruitment outpost for a coven of witches, and later that night, the entire damned U.S. Border is closed!” Agent ADAM took a deep breath before continuing. It was almost as if he waited for Agent SETH to start to say something just so he could cut SETH off.

“No one cares about what happened in Powell right now, because the whole damned world is wondering how the U.S. got nuked, who was responsible, and if and when we’ll retaliate. This could be the luckiest night of your life. Instead of a ‘meeting’ with ANDREA, instead you get to drive to Phoenix, Arizona. We’ll do our best to cover our involvement in New Mexico.

“Proceed immediately to Phoenix, Arizona. There has been a security breach at a STOR-MOR facility. Someone has broken into the Green Box. Find out who, recover all stolen contents, deal with the thief, and then move the entire contents of the Box to a new location.”

The line went dead before Agent SETH could respond. He informed SAM that they were off to Arizona, but first they needed to ditch the police cruiser and rent another car. Almost as an afterthought, be noted that she’d have to rent the car as he was the one who rented the other two earlier that morning, and they might not be too keen on renting him a third until the others were returned.

Driving a little over the speed limit, it was still a little more than a six hour drive, and the agents arrived in Phoenix around 3:00 AM. They went immediately to the STOR-MOR facility to have a look around. There was a ten-foot wall around the place. The only entrance seemed to be an iron gate out front. The sign indicated the facility would open again at 8:00 AM, but Agent SETH didn’t feel like they had that much time. He noticed there was a light on in the office, and so he yelled to get someone’s attention.

Judging from the barking, he first managed to get the attention of a couple large dogs, but that led to his indirectly gaining the attention of a tired-looking young man in his early 20s. After a bit of talking, the agents learned that there had in fact been a storage locker break in some time before the clerk’s shift began at 8:00 PM. The police had checked everything out and found nothing useful. Supposedly, the security cameras showed nothing useful either which was believable. Given their poor placement, the cameras were probably more for a deterrent than for actual security.

A quick flash of SETH’s badge, and the agents were allowed inside and shown to the locker. The lock had been cut. Upon rolling up the door, the agents scanned the room. Without knowing what was in the Green Box originally, it would be tough to tell what was missing. The only obvious thing would be the square, dust free patch near the entrance. There had probably been a box or crate of some sort there recently.

Agent SETH closed up the locker and asked to see the tapes. It seemed the only way to figure out what had happened was to find out who was responsible. The clerk reminded them that the police had failed to find anything useful on the tapes, but they were welcome to try it themselves. After several minutes of boring fast-forward, they found something. At 7:06 PM, a van had pulled up blocking the camera view. Two men in jeans and hoodies got out, but if they’d done anything with the locker, it couldn’t be seen. After about ten minutes, the men got back into the van and drove away.

The agents were able to get the license plate number of the van, and some quick computer magic from Agent SAM produced a name and address: Ronald Schumacher, Apt. 329 of a building in downtown Phoenix. That would be their first stop after booking a hotel room. They arrived outside the apartment building at about 6:45 AM.

It was a warm but quiet morning. There seemed to be no activity in either of the two buildings forming the three-story apartment complex. Needing an excuse to enter the apartment, Agent SAM stripped down and wrapped herself in nothing but a sheet. The plan was something along the lines of ‘beautiful woman locked out of apartment and in need of phone’. Agent SETH waited around the corner with his gun ready while SAM rang the doorbell. No answer. She rang again. Still no answer, but she could hear running water coming from inside. She banged on the door as loudly as she could. There was a muffled voice which seemed to be shouting, but she couldn’t quite make out the words.

The door was locked, so she peeked in through the window. The curtain was drawn, but it was a very thin material, and she could see through well enough. All she could make out was a kitchen, a couch, a coffee table with a laptop powered on, papers and other items strewn about the floor, and a hallway.

About this time, Sergeant Gump was awake, and he had just purchased a shiny, new Taser. As his hotel was close by, he chose to walk. He arrived just in time to see Agent SAM lift the unlocked window and climb through. Sergeant Gump decided to wait and see what happened.

Agent SETH followed SAM, and he poked his gun through the open window before deciding it was safe to climb through. With both agents inside, Sergeant Gump approached the window to observe. The webcam on the laptop was apparently recording, and so Agent SAM stopped it and replayed the video.
 

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